Royal Mail Offers £500K Mailmark Fund for Mail Producers
Royal Mail will provide a fund of half a million pounds for mail producers to help take advantage of its new Mailmark product. The announcement last month allows mail producers to claim the money to invest in software and hardware upgrades in order to access Mailmark, which was launched by. Royal Mail in March of this year. Mailmark uses a system of printed barcodes, optical recognition and sequence sortation to pinpoint the location and status of mail items for clients. Reports can be issued on the delivery status of any mail item at up to five different points in the mailing process.
MailMark was developed after a £70 million investment by Royal Mail and employs the latest optical technology and digital reporting methods to enhance the customer experience. However, mailing houses as well as in-house mail producers may need to update their production technology in order to meet Mailmark’s specifications. To encourage industry uptake, Royal Mail has made its £500K fund available to all its customers on a first come, first served basis.
Businesses will be able to claim the money based upon the volume of mail they produce – £1,000 for every one million mailings. Individual businesses will be able to claim a maximum of £50,000 and can make retrospective claims back to the launch of Mailmark. In addition to its cashback incentive, Royal Mail is also offering Mailmark to business clients at a 1% cheaper rate than Customer Barcode (CBC) mailings. This price difference will rise to 5% in 2016, although Royal Mail has only committed to offering CBC until 2017.
Royal Mail hopes that its discounted rate for Mailmark and its investment fund will provide a strong incentive for businesses to invest in new production technology. The new initiatives are partly the result of collaboration with the Direct Marketing Association, which had pointed out that the business case for investment by mail producers had yet to be made. After issues were highlighted by the DMA at the Mail Industry Forum in July, a working party was established to assess the impact of Mailmark and discussions were held with Royal Mail. This collaboration led to the development of the ‘helping hand’ fund and price promotion, according to Charles Neilson, Royal Mail’s Head of Business Development – Consumer & Network Access.
Mailmark has been designed for business, advertising and publishing mail with high volume mailers – posting millions of items per year – likely to get the most benefit. For businesses to take advantage, all mail items will be required to carry a Mailmark barcode that contains a unique item reference number and supply chain ID. Businesses must create their own item reference numbers and provide these to Royal Mail in the form of an electronic register (eManifest) before mail is handed over. Mail producers also need to work alongside their customers to ensure they understand the information generated by Mailmark’s reports and can make the most of it.
Royal Mail has created a dedicated Mailmark Customer Take-on team to handle enquiries and offer full support to businesses considering switching to the new tracking and analytics system. As well as providing supporting materials, the team runs regular workshops in London and Leeds, including access to a test environment. The workshops and backup support are designed to ensure that switching to the new system can be accomplished smoothly and without any disruption to business services. Once businesses are Mailmark-enabled, they will be listed on Royal Mail’s website to let their customers know.
Mailmark looks set to transform the way high volume mail producers do business and Royal Mail’s latest incentives should encourage even more businesses to make the switch from CBC mailings.